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GPs saw nearly two thirds of patients face to face last month


GP appointments


GP practices delivered two million more face-to-face appointments last month compared with September, with the proportion rising to nearly two thirds.

The latest NHS Digital GP appointments data, published today, showed that in-person GP appointments in England rose from 17.3m in September to 19.5m in October.

This represents a rise of 13%, following a rise of 26% last month.

The percentage of face-to-face appointments out of the total number of appointments offered last month also rose by around four percentage points, from 60.7% in September to 64.4% in October.

The experimental data also showed that the overall number of appointments have again risen by around 15%, up around four million from 29.6m in September to 33.9m the following month.

But when Covid vaccinations are excluded, appointments rose by almost two million from 28.6m to 30.4m – a rise of 6%.

Covid vaccinations delivered by practices or PCNs more than trebled from around 960,000 in September to 3.5m last month, according to the data.

Last month’s publication reported that 29.2m overall appointments were offered, with 28.7m offered excluding 550,000 vaccinations, but the figures for September were updated in this month’s publication of the data.

NHS Digital said: ‘Practices can submit any changes they have made to their appointments data for previous weeks which will then be incorporated within the next publication. 

‘For this reason, there may be some small differences in the number of appointments when comparing data for the same month against previous releases.’

Covid jab data taken from the National Immunisation Management Service (NIMS) vaccination dataset can also be added at any time so ‘historic figures may change with each monthly release’, it added.

In September, the data revealed that GPs delivered five million more appointments in August this year compared with the same month last year.

At the time, the BMA said the figures show GPs are ‘working harder than ever’ and are dealing with ‘even more’ patients than before the pandemic.

It followed the announcement of NHS England and the Government’s ‘support package’ for GPs that set out an expectation for practices to increase appointment numbers, among other things.

NHS England said that regional plans to improve access to GP practices – including the lists of the 20% worst-performing practices – will be agreed ‘by the end of’ last week, but has not responded to Pulse requests for information on these.

Pulse revealed this month that the data NHS England has given ICSs to help them identify the 20% of local GP practices to face action on access is based on a one-month ‘snapshot’.

LMCs had previously said that they are ‘looking at every possible challenge’ to NHS England’s ‘poor quality’ data on access to GP practices.

READERS' COMMENTS [2]

David Church 25 November, 2021 3:24 pm

I wonder how they count them?
If I do an isolated one-off locum session at a practice, there are still a few patients who get a phone call as all that is needed to sort something,
If I am doing a regular session for a week or two, or periodically, or on-duty, the phone call proportion even before covid would probably be at least as many phone calls as in-person consults!
Have patients suddenly stopped having enquiries they want answering by phone?
Or are we seeing very very many more F2F than is usual (even pre-covid)?

Patrufini Duffy 25 November, 2021 4:19 pm

I wonder why it’s called the bi-monthly NHS Digital data dump?